Factors affecting community action and upgrading programmes in Kisumu low income residential settlement
In recent years the question of adequate shelter for every family has taken the forefront in national policy discussions. The high population growth rate coupled with the shifts in the population due to rural to urban migration has resulted in a large proportion of the urban population living in substandard housing. Attempts have been made to improve the lot of the inhabitants of these low income (slum and squatter) residential settlements. Governmental, local and individual efforts to improve these settlements has nonetheless continued to be beset by a number of factors which both delay and constrain the successes of improvement and upgrading programmes. In this particular study we tyave tried to highlight factors which affect and hence delay community action and upgrading programmes in Kisumu municipality. The main objectives of the study were to a) provide information on the socio-economic characteristics of squatter and slum communities. b) determine which fac tors influence investment in housing improvement and community involvement. c) describe the nature of community, involvement, participation in informal organi zations and the nature of informal personal re; ati'onships and mutual aid patterns, d) to understand the factors that constrain^upgrading and improvement policies in Kisyrr.u low incjome settlements. v The sites for this study were the low income settlements of Pandpieri and Nyalenda in Kisurnu municipality. A sample of household heads was drawn and interviews conducted. Interviews and informal discussions were also held with key informants composed of officials of the housing-development department, community development officers, social workers, local leaders and others concerned with the improvement of these settlements. Official and unofficial records were also utilized. Interesting findings and discoveries were made. The housing development department, which is the municipal department charged with the implementation of the Kenya Government - World Bank sponsored upgrading programme was noted to be having problems ranging from shortage of funds to inadequate manpower. The department thus finds it difficult to effectively discharge its duties. The work prc^. _iirjr.e of the housing development department is also affected by the politics of the * municipality which further delays the implerr.entation of programm.es, The issue of household tenure security was an important factor throughout this study. It was observed that a nurr.ber of housing decisions especially those touching on investment are influenced by the type of tenure. House or plot ownership (where the occupants have secure tenure) greatly influences individual investment in house, plot or neighbourhood. Another important factor which influences both the participation in the affairs of the community and investment in neighbourhood improvement is length of stay in the settlement. Residents categorised as stable, that is, having made none or few residential changes, were generally found to be more active in community affairs. It has also been observed that the level of public participation in programme implementation was rather low. Furthermore, only a few residents were informed about the upgrading policy in the settlements This observation called into question the information collection and dissemination mechanism. The establishment of settlements' resource and information centres is highly recommended as well as the recruitment of more staff especially community development officials whose duties include liaising with the local population explaining to them yihat is expected of them. This study has also collected data on the socio-economic characteristics of the residents of these two settlements. Inhabitants of these settlements generally earn less than Ksh.s 1,200 per month. Their source of income is sometimes irregular and they try to supplement their income by engaging in small businesses in the informal sector. It is recommended In this study that the informal sector be supported and developed. The income earnecf from, these activities can be invested in house and neighbourhood improvement. With eighty-six percent of the residents earning less than KShs. 1,000 per month the Importance of creating opportunities to earn extra income need not be over-empha.nised. We also collected data on household size and composition since such information is vital for decision making on issues that affect households and the community as a whole. v Statistics and tables have been used to support and emphasise certain important points and to test, clarify or confirm our working hypotheses and assumptions. Lastly, as should be expected, the study has come up with a series of recommendations and pointers for further research.